Why Millennial Women Shouldn't Be Ashamed To Earn More Than Their Boyfriends

by Alexandra Strickler
Alexander Geiger/Shutterstock

Ahh, remember the good ol' days when men were paid more than women?

Oh wait, silly me, we still live in those ol' days!

But, surprisingly enough, the pay gap is not quite as black and white as we've all made it out to be.

A recent study has shown it's not that uncommon for millennial women to earn more than their male SOs.

According to NPR, 38 percent of American wives made more money than their husbands in 2015.

While we should obviously take a moment to appreciate those awesome numbers, it's equally important to acknowledge how millennial women actually feel about surpassing their male counterparts when it comes to salary.

Refinery29 reporter Ashley Ford surveyed over 100 such women and found most of them to be rather ambivalent about being the breadwinners in their homes.

And, as you may have guessed, women aren't the only ones feeling some type of way about earning more money.

Some men are more than just a little butt-hurt about the whole thing, according to research conducted by Harvard Business Review.

Their findings highlighted a correlation between a man's breadwinner status and his political standpoints.

Basically, if a man finds himself in a relationship with a woman who earns more money than him, his political views are more likely to be partisan.

And those partisan views could go either way — he might align more with supporting women's rights, or he may suddenly start talking about overturning Roe v. Wade. It's kind of a toss-up.

Either way, it's definitely cause for concern that a man's political perspective can be shifted just by the power of the "mighty" dollar in this context.

However, dig a little deeper, and you'll realize a little thing called cognitive dissonance is likely the true culprit here.

Cognitive dissonance is a fancy way to describe a feeling all of us are familiar with: the need to establish internal consistency.

All of us are brought up to believe, feel and think certain ways about certain things. And, because life is the way it is, those predetermined beliefs inevitably get overturned as you learn new things and expose yourself to new experiences.

But that feeling of holding two conflicting ideas in your head at the same time? That, my friends, is cognitive dissonance.

And it's exactly why millennial women are feeling guilty about their higher salaries, and why the men are responding with wishy-washy political beliefs.

Whether any of us inherently agreed with it or not, we were pretty much all brought up to view men as traditional breadwinners who "bring home the bucks," while women kept the home tidy and made sure the kids went off to school for the day.

Now, as society evolves, as gender identities slowly start to shed their rigid frameworks, and as some women begin to earn more money than men, literally everyone feels conflicted about it.

That feeling is natural. Change will always feel weird, no matter which way you slice it.

But the solution isn't to revert back to the awful-but-familiar habit of stripping women of their rights, nor is it right to overcorrect and suddenly support women with no real passion or direction behind it.

Cognitive dissonance, as highfalutin as it sounds, is real AF.

And while it's OK to feel it in the most unsettling of life's moments, it's not OK to let it dictate your behavior in the long-run.

Citations: The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2017) (AAUW), Millennial women are 'worried,' 'ashamed' of out-earning boyfriends and husbands (CNBC), What Happens When Wives Earn More Than Husbands (NPR), Millennial Women Are Conflicted About Being Breadwinners (Refinery29), Earning Less Than Their Wives Makes U.S. Men More Partisan (Harvard Business Review), A Funny Thing Happens When Women Begin to Outearn Their Husbands (New York Magazine), What Is Cognitive Dissonance? (Verywell)